I Launched GoFundMe for Toronto Birdman Ross Ward

birdman Ross Ward with Yuluo Anita Wei

Back in January, I launched a crowdfunding campaign for Ross Ward, Toronto’s Birdman, after he was randomly assaulted while selling his birds in downtown Toronto. I wanted to make a blog post to share some behind-the-scenes moments and talk about how he is doing now.

I first heard about Ross’ assault through social media in December. Having had the pleasure of interacting with him before and seeing many comments about wanting to help, my husband and I decided to launch a GoFundMe to fund his recovery and alleviate some financial pressure. We needed exposure and thought back to how Ross originally came into the limelight – mainstream media coverage. I emailed a bunch of Toronto news outlets and Global News was the first to respond (within half an hour!), really wanting to cover the story.

Originally Ross wasn’t keen on doing an interview, but came around to the idea when he realized that the publicity might help the police in their investigation. After a couple days of back and forth, Ross and his wife Maria agreed to an outdoor interview near a school in East York.

Catherine McDonald and the Global News Toronto team came for 2:00, finished up by 3:00, and we saw it on that night’s 5:30 news. They mentioned the GoFundMe at the end of the story, and within literally minutes, donations came rolling in!

After just three hours we had achieved our initial goal of $5,000. It hit about $7,000 before I went to bed that night, and the next day it was around $11,000. By now the donations have pretty much finished, with the total at almost $17,000 from nearly 400 donors, and plenty of heartwarming comments. This is the first time I’ve done crowdfunding, and I’m so touched that Toronto came together to raise so much money for Ross!

donor's note
“Thank you for setting up this up. Ross is such a gentle man, I was shocked to hear this story.
I have bought birds from him. He was an inspiration to me. I would look for him just to say hello.
May his healing go well and his spirits remain strong.
His determination to make a living despite limitations makes him a hero.
May his spirit remain strong .
Blessings for a speedy recovery
Ross, may you feel the love and best wishes,
you made a difference to my life.”

There are so many touching comments from donors and this one especially stuck in my mind.

These days, Ross is mostly recuperating at home, and has slowly started to craft birds and make trips downtown again. He was injured all over, notably losing some teeth – something that Maria says the money raised will really help address. I’m still in regular contact with them and they want to pass on that they have received everyone’s well wishes and are very grateful for Toronto’s help. We are planning to film a quick update video for the GoFundMe once the weather warms up.

Some have asked where or how to buy Ross’ birds outside Toronto. That’s a tough one – you really have to just get lucky and catch him downtown! He intends to make some for San Sheng Art Space. We’ll be buying them at his regular price for resale and can arrange for shipping. Please check San Sheng’s social media or website for further updates.

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